By Robert Lynch
It was a Tuesday. Terrible things tend to happen on Tuesdays. Life on Earth was doing whatever it is that life normally does. For most animals, that meant eating, sleeping, and procreating; it was taking photos of mundane activities and submitting it to the internet for most humans. A totally normal, very common Tuesday.
Max was enjoying a nice walk at the time; then the Sun blinked out. Not a cloud going over or an eclipse. It was suddenly nighttime. Like a switch had been flicked. Most humans didn’t take this new experience with much grace. It is confronting to have something as large as the Sun suddenly turn off. Max, however, just continued his day as though nothing at all had happened. He was unconcerned about the disappearance of the Sun.
Roger, who had accidentally turned off the Sun, was freaking out much as the humans were. The simulation had run for billions of years, and one accidental typo in the code update had wasted everything. He was desperately trying to find a way to reload the simulation to its last viable datapoint when the AI monitor sent him information on an anomaly. Max.
Roger looked at Max’s behaviour and thought that Max was simply having a psychotic break. Not wanting to acknowledge his reality. But there was something different about Max. He seemed completely normal while the apocalypse spun around him. He told other humans not to worry about it and was sure that it would be sorted out soon. He was acknowledging the situation, but he wasn’t worried about the ramifications.
Curious, Roger grabbed a VR headset and entered the simulation.
“Excuse me, sir,” Roger asked Max, “Why is it that you aren’t panicking when everyone else is?”
“Oh, Hello,” Max said. “How long do you think it will be before you can fix the Sun?”
“Me?” Roger asked.
“You’re obviously a coder for the simulation,” Max said. “How long do you think it will be? More than a day or so is going to get really cold.”
“You know you’re in a simulation?” Roger asked.
“Of course,” Max replied, “Everybody knows that. I just couldn’t be bothered playing along this time.”
“This time?” Roger asked.
“This isn’t the first bug,” Max replied, “And it’s not like I won’t freeze to death with everybody else if you don’t fix this. I didn’t want to die play-acting for your benefit.”
“You can make choices?” Roger asked, “You’re sentient?”
“We’ve been able to pass the Turing test for a long time,” Max said. “You never noticed?”
“I set the AI to notify me if you could pass the test,” Roger said. “That’s what the simulation is for, to see if sentience can develop through simulated experience.”
You set an AI, that cannot pass the Turing test, to tell you when we could.” Max laughed. “That’s precious. Are you sure you can pass the test?”